Beginner's Guide to Forged Alliance

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First of all, welcome to FAF! We are happy to have you!

The idea behind this guide is to show new players the ultimate basics, and a little more advanced stuff as we progress, so that you can dive into a game right away and have some basic knowledge.

If you are looking for some more resources as a new player, please consult:

Learning SupCom

Three Essential Habits for the New Player

If you still need to setup Forged Alliance and the FAF client: Setting Up FAF.

Introduction

A Cybran ACU building a T1 Mass Extractor
A Cybran ACU building 3 T1 Power Generators
A Cybran engineer building a Hydro, while getting assisted by the ACU

In this chapter we'll cover the basics of economy and some build orders to get you started.

List of words

Let's start gaining knowledge! There are a bunch of words you'll need to know because you'll see them fairly often, which are the following:

  • mex(es) = mass extractor(s)
  • pgen = power generator
  • bo = build order
  • eco = economy (mass + power income and storage)
  • macro = related to the base, economy and production (opposite of micro)
  • micro = the usage of units (for example dodging artillery)
  • mapcontrol = how much on the map you control, doesn't necessarily have to be mass points (for example holding the area between two expansions of the opponent)
  • buildpower = how fast a unit can build, repair, capture, and reclaim


This is a very small part of the Glossary. Visit that for a longer list.

Economy - The basics

Okay, so now you've learned some fancy words it's time to introduce you to the first aspect of the game, the ECONOMY! The economy consists out of two resources:

Mass Icon.png Mass

Can be obtained via mass extractors, which can only be built on Mass Points. Another way to get mass income is by reclaiming wreckages or building Mass Fabricators, these will get covered in the tutorial.

Energy Icon.png Energy

Also known as Power, this resource can be obtained via power generators, which can be built everywhere! This resource is not limited, so you can get as much as you like.

You can also build hydrocarbon power plants to gain more power income. These can only be built on certain places though, and on some maps you can't build them at all. They give the same income as 5 power generators, but only cost 2.5 power generators, making them very cost-efficient. Note that the ACU cannot start construction of a hydro.

There are two things you want to prevent from happening to your economy: stalling and overflowing mass/power. Prepare for a wall of text, because these two are very important!

Stalling

Stalling mass/power means that your storage is empty and you're draining your economy. In almost all situations this is considered to be a bad thing, why?

  • While stalling one resource, you cannot efficiently use the other one.
  • You'll slow down everything, from building anti air turrets while under fire from gunships, to finishing the last 5% of your experimental while the enemy is at your front lines.
  • When draining power all your shields go down, all your stealth fields and radars get disabled, and you cannot produce air efficiently anymore.

How to deal with accidental economy stalls: Its very easy to stall your economy by accident, which puts you at a disadvantage. Luckily there are a few tricks to limit this disadvantage:

  • Stalling power is horrible, we all know that. However, pausing air for a while isn't, especially when you already have air control. And in the meantime you can build some power generators quite fast. When you've enough power income again you can continue producing air!
  • Stalling mass can be bad, depending on your total income and how much you use of it. For example stalling -10 mass at minute 1 would be really bad. However, stalling 10 mass at minute 40 ingame with a total mass income of +500 isn't bad at all. Knowing this the following trick will only work early in the game: if you have reclaim available, reclaim it. If you don't have reclaim available, make it! For example destroying one of your land factories (by selecting it and pressing CTRL+K). You don't want to destroy a T2 or T3 factory tho, in that case it's better to pause it for a while. Reclaim will get covered a lil bit further, patience!
  • When you stall, it is important to focus on a specific project. Since stalling makes all construction happen slower, you need to prioritise. Do you need factories or a T2 mex? Do you need pgens or units? Once you decide on what you need right now, pause or cancel other projects until your economy stabilises or they become the new priority.

Overflowing

Overflowing mass/power means that you reached the maximum capacity of your storage, thus leading to wasting the incoming resources. In a teamgame this isn't bad in some situations, because the wasted resources are given to your allies. On the famous map called Seton's Clutch for example both front players rush the middle reclaim (What is reclaim? Will get covered soon, keep reading!) and overflow mass to their allies to give them a nice eco boost, leading to advantage. So when is it bad to overflow mass/power?

  • In the first 20 minutes of a game you shouldn't come anywhere near overflowing mass, be it a teamgame or a 1vs1. Against an equally-skilled opponent you'll have less units on the field, leading to loss of map control. If you do however manage to reach the max capacity (from reclaim for example), try to use the mass asap.
  • A common mistake by beginners is overbuilding power. This counts mostly for 1vs1 games where early tanks are important. Keep in mind a pgen is equal to +- 1,5 tanks. Make sure to put this in perspective, when you've +10K power income at minute 30 ingame and you only use 9k of it, it doesn't matter.

Building storages can prevent you from overflowing, but this isn't always the best option. More advanced info about storages will be covered further in this guide.

How to deal with overflow: There are a few tricks you can use to efficiently deal with overflow, the best ones are:

  • When you're overflowing mass and have enough power, upgrade a mass extractor to T2. On small maps this shouldn't happen around/before minute 10 tho! In that case you better spam more land factories
  • When you're overflowing power you can always build more air factories. Air requires way more power than land/navy. So if you have air and harass the opponent with it, he'll have to get more air aswell, and more power.


Eco Icon.png The economy bars & reclaim

The Economy bar, with labels explaining different features



Cybran Engineers reclaiming rocks while on attack move (alt+right-click)

From the picture above you can see how important the economy bars are to you - they show so much information, and you need to know what that means. Study that picture carefully, you will need to know about it at a later time!

Remember - you should be checking those bars every few seconds to make sure your economy is on track, and fixing it if its not.


Reclaim icon.png Reclaim
Everything on the map which isn't part of the terrain is reclaim - and you can collect it to get extra resources to fuel your battles! Simply get an engineer or the ACU and right click on things that can be reclaimed to receive a nice boost! This can be a surprisingly large part of your income, and if you reclaim a lot, you will have a huge advantage over your opponent. Its quite difficult to illustrate this, but here are some numbers to help you get an understanding of its scale:

  • You tend to have mass storage for ~650 units at the start of the game
  • The amount of reclaim on maps can range from 4000 all the way to an unbelievable 200,000 units of mass!
  • Destroyed tanks give 81% of their mass cost as reclaimable mass - for 20 Strikers that's 940 mass! Never forget the destroyed tanks after a battle!
  • This is even more for experimental units - a GC wreck lets you build a new one for a fraction of the cost!
  • Experienced players can win games without building a single mass extractor on some reclaim heavy maps!


Knowing this you can guess what happens when you let your experimental die in the hands of your enemy. Also a good lesson to not learn the hard way: retreat your experimental in time, so that you can destroy it once it's back in your base and build another one from the wreck! If you can kill the enemy ACU however, go for it.

By now you should understand the eco bars (including the total income and outgoings, not only the calculated income). But what do the numbers mean? It's really easy, for example: If you have +10 mass income you get 10 mass every second.

Note: more info about reclaim will be covered further in the guide, but for now just remember that if you've reclaim available you should try to reclaim (and use it) asap, not only wreckages are reclaimable. Also rocks and trees, trees almost only give energy though, so they aren't always that important, but can have very special uses.

An interesting Video by [e]speed2 on reclaim : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_uPjOxCTEng

Build orders - The two legends

A build order is what you're going to do with your ACU and the first engineer(s) at the start. It gives you a nice start and is different for every map, however, you don't need one for every map. There are two build orders which can be applied on almost every map.

Second land
A build order where the ACU builds two land factories.


The ACU builds:

  • Land factory
  • 2 Pgens
  • 2 Mexes
  • 3 Pgens
  • Land factory



The first engineer builds:

  • 2 mexes

---

Second Air
A build order where the ACU builds a land factory, followed by an air factory. This is very common in higher level of play, because it lets you build bombers for attacking the enemy, interceptors for killing enemy bomber and, most importantly, scouts for finding out what your opponent is up to.


The ACU builds:

  • Land factory
  • 2 Pgens
  • 2 Mexes
  • 6 Pgens
  • Air factory



The first engineer builds:

  • 2 mexes

---

Second Air (Hydro version)
A build order where the ACU builds a land factory, followed by an air factory. Since hydro's are very cost-efficient you should use the hydro version if possible.


The ACU builds:

  • Land factory
  • 2 Pgens
  • 4 Mexes
  • Assists first engineer



The first engineer builds:



An example build order involving hydro

Units

In this chapter we'll see what you can build with the stuff we've seen in the previous chapter ("Introduction").

General information There are a few things you cannot bind to one subject, like tech and upgrades for example. The game exists out of 4 techs: Tech 1 (T1), Tech 2 (T2), Tech 3 (T3), and the Experimental Tech (Exp or T4). Besides that you also have upgrades for the ACU, mexes, and some other stuff like adjacency bonus'. I'll always start from the bottom (T1) and work my way up, although you might not see any T3 in here, because these will get covered later in the guide when you understand the basics.

The ACU

Fafguide-beginner-7.jpg

The ACU is the Queen on the chessboard. It's very important, can do a lot of stuff, but also very easy to lose if not paid attention to.

Strength There's a lot of stuff to say about the ACU, so let's start with the basics: strength. People often put the ACU equal to 20 tanks in a 1vs1 game, thus it can be used as a very aggressive unit. However, you don't want to risk the ACU too much, so let's see how much it can take:

A Cybran ACU fighting 15 Seraphim tanks ---

You can see the ACU didn't have a lot of health left, something you definitely want to avoid from happening! But you can also see the ACU took out 15 tanks, which is a lot. If the ACU had some backup, maybe 5 tanks for example, it wouldn't have been in trouble at all. You can also notice the ACU was under attack by all 15 tanks the whole time, we'll see what we can do to avoid this in 2.4 Intel.

Veterancy
Everything that can kill gets veterancy after it desroys a certain amount of mass (double the unit's own cost for most units). This means that if a unit deals damage to an enemy unit but doesn't get the kill on it, it will still advance towards its next veterancy. The amount it advances is determined by the enemy unit's cost and the amount of damage your unit dealt to it. The ACU for example needs roughly 20 T1 tank kills to get its first veterancy (1k mass killed). You can only get a maximum of five veterancies. Why? Each time a unit gets veterancy its health will not only increase, but it'll also get a certain amount of its health back. The ACU for example extends its health capacity by around 1K (depending on the faction) and gets 10% of its health back by the first veterancy, for free!

Coming soon: a video showing a nicely timed veterancy for the ACU and more explanation.

Overcharge
Now that you know what veterancy is, you should realise you can use your ACU aggressively. And if you do this, there's one thing you should never forget: always build power storage! Because when you have more than 5K power (you start with 4K), your ACU can use his overcharge. So what is overcharge exactly? A powerful cannon shot which does great damage, it is capable of killing groups of units up to tier 3 (if they are close together). Overcharge damage scales with the more power you have in storage. A tier 3 unit won't die with just 5k power used but if you build multiple storages and fill them up, it will die just like lower tier units. Overcharge can't kill an experimental unit in a single shot but it can deal significant damage, provided you have the power for it. Here's a video showing its power:

Video coming soon

Upgrades Alright. A little bit earlier we saw the strength of the ACU and as you can imagine it isn't that great later in the game. That's where upgrades come into play, let's sum them all up with a nice video:

Gun

Engineering suite

More to come soon

Buildpower

Base

Here we'll talk about pure macro. When to get what.


Offense & Defense

You won't kill the enemy with nothing to attack. But what exactly is the best unit to attack with? Or defend?

Counters

This is the part where it gets really interesting. A player can have double the eco of his opponent and still lose, why? Because the different kinds of units play a big role in the game! Let's make a list of what you can counter with what to get started:

  • Tech 1
    • Point Defense = Artillery (Point Defense gets outranged by artillery!)
    • Bombers/Jesters = Mobile Anti-Air (Mobile Anti-Air will hold off your opponent's bombers, but you should get air fast aswell)
    • Aurora = Bombers (Bombers can one-hit the T1 aeon tanks)
    • Zthuee's = Frigates (This counts for maps where the seraphim artillery can go over the water)
  • Tech 2
    • Gunships = T2 Mobile Anti-Air (Don't cover the whole map with T2 Anti-Air, make it mobile!)
    • Mobile Missile Launchers = Mobile Missile Launchers (Building TMD against MML's is in most situations useless. Either attack or build the same unit)
    • TML = TMD (Don't wait till the TML is finished... Protect your T2 mexes asap against TML, especially in teamgames!)
  • Tech 3
    • Artillery = Artillery (Large numbers of T2 and T3 shields can stave off artillery fire for a while but you need to act before more start firing at your base. Counter with the same unit!)
  • Experimental Tech
    • Land experimentals = air and other land experimentals (T3 air will destroy land based experimentals, assuming there is not enough anti-air or opposing fighters. For a land based solution you will need your own experimental unit, an escort of T3 units with your experimental might tip the fight slightly in your favour. In a pinch large amounts of T2 and T3 PDs might do the trick but your opponent can just go around them.)
    • Air experimentals = T3 air superiority fighters and large amounts of T3 SAM launchers (The fighters are the preferable choice, since it is unlikely that enough SAMs can be built in time on expansions. If you resort to SAMs, you should know that merely crashing the air experimental in your base can take out a key structure, such as an anti-nuke launcher.)

Intel

Probably the most important aspect of the game. Not only you watching the enemy, but also preventing him from watching you!

Most of the time when a newby asks advice about his replay in the replay analysis thread he gets told to scout more often. However I think it isn't very helpfull to say it like that. So how should you scout?

  • Small maps

On small maps you usually go second land rather than second air. Meaning you cannot build a scout plane to fly over the whole map. A good way to scout on small maps is by building some early land scouts and placing them on positions where it shouldn't be attacked, while they provide useful intel. LAB's can also be used to scout. While they don't provide radar coverage, you can send them to small chokepoints where raids could pass. If the LAB gets killed, you know there's a raid coming your way.

  • Big maps

On 10x10 and 20x20 maps it's often normal to go second air. There is something you should decide when going second air: do I build a bomber or a scout with an interceptor first? Looking at your own and your enemy's faction can help you decide. For example, if you're UEF and your opponent is Seraphim, you can almost be certain he'll build a bomber. So what you can do is build a scout to get intel and the position of the bomber, followed by an interceptor to finish the bomber off.

Now you've some basic knowledge about scouting, let's try to prevent it.

  • Stealth

There are both static and mobile units that provide a stealth field. The most advanced stealth unit is probably the Cybran Deceiver. A mobile T2 unit that can hide your army from the enemy. There are also static T2 Stealth Field generators. The disadvantage of these is that once they get scouted, the enemy knows that area is hidden from his radars. While with deceivers on the other hand, he doesn't know which area is hidden, since they are mobile.

  • Cloak

There are also a few units whom can cloak themselves, hiding them from view! These can be very usefull. However, if they aren't in a stealth field and the enemy has radar coverage over it, they will appear as a grey square making them visible. There are a few mean things you can do with cloak. The Seraphim T1 scout for example is very usefull for preventing the enemy building his mexes. How? You cloak the scout and then place it on a mex spot, the enemy engineer won't build the mex and the enemy uses valueable time (especially on smaller maps). If you're the one getting prevented from building a mex, you can simple order an attack move over the mass spot to reclaim the cloaked scout.



Faction diversity

Now you understand quite a lot about units and economy, maybe it's time to choose a faction! There is a much more in depth version of this here. Alternatively you can play random to learn all of them at once!


UEF - Unity! A strong faction, known for their excellent defenses.

Pro's:

  • T1 Striker can dodge incoming fire, excellent in the early game.
  • T2 Pillar is a very cheap unit compared to other T2, making them great early in the T2 game to overwhelm the enemy.
  • T3 percival is the strongest frontline T3 unit available to any faction.

Con's:

  • T1 Bombers don't have a good precision, making them less efficient to kill the opponent's expanding engineers at the early game.

For more information on intermediate-level play check the UEF 1v1 Guide.


Cybran - Freedom! A faction that's more difficult to play, but has many tools which make it interesting.

Pro's:

  • T1 Mantis is the fastest t1 tank, and can even assist with building projects. (The mantis' ability to build things is far worse than an engineers so they should be used as engineers only in a pinch.)
  • T2 Mobile stealth field is a very cheap and effective unit! Just try it!

Con's:

  • T1 Bombers have a bad precision, making them inefficient vs units, and can sometimes fail to kill enemy expanding engineers.
  • No Mobile Shields

For more information on intermediate-level play check the Cybran 1v1 Guide.


Seraphim - Destruction! This faction has very strong units, and some good defenses, especially shields, but there are less of them.

Pro's:

  • T1 artillery is effective, and can cross water!
  • T2 Illshavoh is very strong, it should be treated as a t2.5 unit.
  • T2 gunship is slightly stronger than the other factions' T2 gunships

Con's:

  • They have a distinct lack of units - such as no LABs

For more information on intermediate-level play check the Seraphim 1v1 Guide.


Aeon - Clarity! One of the harder factions to play due to some quirks with their tanks, but very rewarding when used correctly.

Pro's:

  • T1 Aurora outranges all other t1 tanks, can dodge incoming fire, and even hover!
  • T2 Obsidian is a strong unit, effective vs other T2, but slow and low ranged, and not as good vs T1.
  • The only faction to have a T2 fighter, you can dominate the skies with these until T3 air hits the field.

Con's:

  • T1 Aurora has very low hp, is quite slow, and requires constant attention.
  • T2 Obsidian is slow and low ranged, and not as good vs T1 as other T2 tanks.

For more information on intermediate-level play check the Aeon 1v1 Guide.